Finance departments can save their teams from 25,000 hours of avoidable rework caused by human errors by deploying robotic process automation (RPA) in their financial reporting processes, according to Gartner, Inc. Currently, fewer than one-third of finance departments that have deployed RPA have utilized the technology for financial reporting, leaving major efficiency gains on the table.

Gartner studied the use of RPA in finance departments through interviews with more than 150 corporate controllers, chief accounting officers (CAOs) and chief accounting leaders to determine the main benefits of implementing RPA within the financial reporting process and identified three key roadblocks that are currently hindering broader adoption.

“While 88% of corporate controllers expect to implement RPA by next year, we routinely encounter hesitancies when it comes to applying RPA to financial reporting processes,” said Dennis Gannon, research vice president in the Gartner Finance practice.

“When viewed from a narrow ROI perspective, financial reporting appears to be a low priority compared with other business initiatives,” Mr. Gannon said. “The departments that have experimented with RPA in their reporting processes, however, report a series of additional benefits, from less staff time fixing mistakes and more time allocated to higher-value work. The result is typically higher employee engagement and less turnover.”

Gartner’s analysis based on survey responses with accounting and controllership leaders revealed three roadblocks finance leaders experience when considering implementing RPA: a hesitancy to remove human judgment from the process, perception of low ROI and process standardization delays before implementation.